Herb: Chinese Asparagus
Latin name: Asparagus cochinchinensis
Synonyms: Asparagus falcatus, Asparagus insularis, Asparagus lucidus, Melanthium cochinchinense
Medicinal use of Chinese Asparagus:This species has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. The dried root is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, antitussive, diuretic, expectorant, nervine, sialagogue, stomachic, nervous stimulant and tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of fevers, debility, sore throats, coughs etc. It is often decocted with other herbs and used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including diabetes mellitus. Prolonged usage is recommended for the treatment of impotence. The root is harvested when the plant is dormant and is dried for later use. The plant has a folk history for the treatment of cancer, modern research has detected antitumour activity and it is now being studied for the treatment of lung cancer.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Near seashores all over Japan. Thinly forested slopes, roadsides and waste fields from near sea level to 1700 metres in China.
Edible parts of Chinese Asparagus:Tubers - cooked. The tubers are up to 5cm long and 2m wide. They are washed to remove the bitterness, the fibrous core is removed and the root is then boiled. It tastes like asparagus. Another report says that the tubers are eaten after preserving in sugar. The fruit is said to be edible. The fruit is about 6 - 8mm in diameter. Another report says that the berries are harmful if eaten.
Other uses of the herb:Kills the larvae of flies and mosquitoes. No more details.
Propagation of Chinese Asparagus:Seed - pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring or as soon as the seed is ripe in early autumn in a greenhouse. It usually germinates in 3 - 6 weeks at 25°C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sunny position in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Division in early spring as the plant comes into growth.
Cultivation of the herb:Near seashores all over Japan. Thinly forested slopes, roadsides and waste fields from near sea level to 1700 metres in China.
Known hazards of Asparagus cochinchinensis:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.